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Child Custody Lawyer Knoxville TN

How is Child Custody Determined in Tennessee?

Father with custody of his daughter in TennesseeUnder Tennessee law, all court orders for divorces, legal separations, annulments, or maintenance that involve a minor child must also contain a parenting plan that establishes the authority and responsibility of each parent regarding the child. Negotiating such a plan during an emotionally-charged divorce without the aid of a custody lawyer can be difficult.

A Knoxville child custody attorney from Menefee & Brown knows the process and requirements for temporary and permanent parenting plans under the Tennessee Domestic Relations Code. We can help you work with the other parent to establish a plan consistent with Tennessee legal requirements as well as your goals and expectations. If you are ultimately unable to reach such a plan, a child custody lawyer can work with the court to secure an order in the best interests of your children.

Seeking child custody lawyers in knoxville TN? Contact us to learn more on how we can help you fight for your child best interests!

Is Tennessee a Mother or Father State?

By Tennessee law, a husband is automatically assumed to be the child's father. However, if the mother and father aren't married, then the father will have to try and establish paternity. If this cannot be done, then sole custody will be given to the mother. She then has the legal right to make financial, health, and educational decisions for the child.

How is Paternity Established

Paternity is established through a DNA genetic test. Either both parties agree to the test, or in some cases, Tennessee Code Section 36-2-305 allows a judge to order a test. Section 36-2-304 defines situations where a man is presumed to be a child's father. If the baby is born during a marriage or is born within 300 days of a divorce, the man is presumed to be the child's father. If a man wants to establish paternity or establish that he is not a child's father, he can file a complaint to establish parentage. Both the child and his or her mother can also file a complaint to establish parentage. The laws regarding paternity in Tennessee are quite complex. We advise you to consult attorneys who are experienced in paternity issues to ensure your rights are protected.

How is Child Custody Determined?

In Tennessee divorce cases, custody arrangements are made based on the best interest of the child. Under Tennessee law, courts are directed to order a custody arrangement that permits both parents to enjoy the maximum participation possible in the life of the child. In deciding who the primary residential parent will be and what schedule is in the best interest of the child, Courts will consider the following factors:

(1) The strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent, including whether one parent has performed the majority of parenting responsibilities relating to the daily needs of the child;

(2) Each parent’s or caregiver’s past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities, including the willingness and ability of each of the parents and caregivers to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and both of the child’s parents, consistent with the best interest of the child. In determining the willingness of each of the parents and caregivers to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and both of the child’s parents, the court shall consider the likelihood of each parent and caregiver to honor and facilitate court ordered parenting arrangements and rights, and the court shall further consider any history of either parent or any caregiver denying parenting time to either parent in violation of a court order;

(3) Refusal to attend a court ordered parent education seminar may be considered by the court as a lack of good faith effort in these proceedings;

(4) The disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education and other necessary care;

(5) The degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver, defined as the parent who has taken the greater responsibility for performing parental responsibilities;

(6) The love, affection, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;

(7) The emotional needs and developmental level of the child;

(8) The moral, physical, mental and emotional fitness of each parent as it relates to their ability to parent the child;

(9) The child’s interaction and interrelationships with siblings, other relatives and step-relatives, and mentors, as well as the child’s involvement with the child’s physical surroundings, school, or other significant activities;

(10) The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment;

(11) Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person. The court shall, where appropriate, refer any issues of abuse to juvenile court for further proceedings;

(12) The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person’s interactions with the child;

(13) The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older. The court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preference of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children;

(14) Each parent’s employment schedule, and the court may make accommodations consistent with those schedules; and

(15) Any other factors deemed relevant by the court.

What is Considered an Unfit Parent in Tennessee?

Even if you are a good person and parent, unfortunately there are things that can happen to make you "unfit" in the eyes of the court. Here are a few issues to avoid when trying to get custody:

  • If you are arrested, you will most likely be seen as "unfit" to be the primary parent of the child.
  • If you happen to disobey any temporary or permanent orders given by the court.
  • Be communicative with your spouse, as refusing to do this can label you as "unfit".
  • Be careful with social media, don't post anything inappropriate.

Ongoing Custody Issues: Seeking a Modification

Even after your divorce, issues involving child custody may still arise. A change in circumstances could necessitate a modification of the parenting plan, an unanticipated situation may cause a dispute over what the parenting plan requires, or perhaps the other parent is failing to honor his or her obligations. These issues require swift action in order to preserve your rights and safeguard the wellbeing of your children.

Get Help From a Seasoned Custody Lawyer in Knoxville, TN

At Menefee & Brown, we put our clients family law needs first. We understand the sensitive nature of child custody disputes. That is why our custody attorneys remain responsive to the needs of our clients and make it our priority to address their concerns promptly. We use our combined 30 years of experience in the practice of law to help our clients construct parenting plans that are in their best interest, and the best interest of their children.

Our child custody attorneys in Knoxville can give you peace of mind by taking action to promptly resolve issues or secure compliance from an uncooperative parent. At Menefee & Brown, we understand the panic and fear that child custody issues can instill in parents. Our child custody lawyers strive to foster a supportive environment for our clients, thoroughly explaining the situation and keeping each client apprised of the latest developments in his or her case.

Don't fight child custody alone, let us at Menefee & Brown, P.C. fight for the best interests of your child. Contact us today at (865) 351-2029 or online!

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